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The Bengals’ loss to the Saints means someone should lose their job

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The Bengals’ loss on Sunday is the type of loss the demands someone’s job.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals-Training Camp Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY NE

You knew Sunday would play out like it did.

A brief hope existed that the Cincinnati Bengals could rise to a new level, taking out one of the league’s top-ranked offenses led by a first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback. Optimistic scenarios carried weighty overtures if the Bengals won: 1) Cincinnati would improve to 6-3, enhancing their Wild Card chances and 2) build desperately needed confidence by giving a Super Bowl bound contender an unexpected blemish.

Hope, dreams, they’re well-and-good — cushioning ourselves against the cynical nature of being a Cincinnati fan. If the Bengals, the Reds, Bearcats, or Musketeers aren’t offering disappointment in some degree — whether they’re submitting poor midseason report cards or making early postseason exits — then we’re not sure how to react. It’s not easy being us. Oh poor us.

Yet, you can’t sit back and flavor the world with optimistic hues when you considered the Bengals and Saints on Sunday.

Let me be blunt.

Cincinnati’s defense sucks.

Their talent, due to injury and questionable philosophies, can’t compare against the league’s top offenses. NFL records are being threatened. Never had an NFL defense allowed 500 yards or more in three straight games. Cincinnati, allowing 551 and 576 yards against the Chiefs and Buccaneers respectively, allowed 509 on Sunday and now has that distinction.

The first team to ever allow three-straight games of 500+ yards.

That’s embarrassing.

We could say, “in fairness, the Bengals are dealing with injuries and their previous two losses were against two of the league’s top-ranked offenses.”

We could.

However, that indirectly drives home a point that Cincinnati’s ability to acquire talent is far more questionable than widely thought — there is no “next man up,” because the next man hasn’t stepped up to earn a role as a regular contributor.

We still go back to the Teryl Austin defense.

It’s bad.

Really bad.

A defense designed for turnovers forced none on Sunday. New Orleans scored touchdowns on six of their last seven possessions — the possession on which they didn’t reach the endzone, resulted in a field goal.

No amount of stunts has helped Cincinnati generate a pass rush. Linebacker Jordan Evans spent a good amount of time covering wide receivers. New Orleans took advantage of Cincinnati’s vulnerabilities with running backs out of the backfield — Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram combined for over 100 yards receiving, including a 28-yard screen to Ingram early in the second with safeties Shawn Williams and Jessie Bates badly missing last-second tackles.

This isn’t a new storyline though.

The Bengals employ the league’s worst-ranked defense — they were a top-10 squad in five of the last seven years and ranked 16th last season. The biggest change is Austin’s schemes; they’re not fitting with the talent on-the-field.

We knew coming into Sunday’s game, the Bengals offense had to step up... without their premiere wide receiver and tight end, who was lost against Atlanta. Instead of having two Pro Bowl superstars, Dalton had John Ross, Tyler Boyd, Alex Erickson, and C.J. Uzomah to work with. While you might like those players and they’ve made solid contributions, they (with the exception of Boyd) aren’t the players you trust to score touchdowns exhaustively keeping up with New Orleans’ offense.

There was a hope Ross would step up, and he did score a two-yard touchdown. However, prior to the fourth quarter, that was his only contribution. Hoping for Ross to step-up is like hoping that Disney won’t completely oversaturate and screw up Star Wars. Until proven otherwise, Ross is Ross. He might get you a touchdown, but he’s otherwise a ghost.

In a way, expectations were fulfilled on Sunday.

The defense was embarrassingly abused — players failed to execute, coaches failed to coach, and no one schemed to promote a competitive game. Their offense did little to mitigate the pressure Cincinnati’s defense faced against New Orleans.

Marvin Lewis even knows he’s not coaching well enough now.

Let’s not lose perspective though.

The Saints have Super Bowl written all over them, led by a Hall of Fame quarterback who is surrounded by an impressive cast of talent. New Orleans has a great offense and they bounced the only undefeated team last week.

Granted, a competitive game would have been preferable — a loss is a loss, yes... but a loss like this one is demoralizing. A loss like this one demands answers.

A loss like this one demands someone’s job.

Marvin Lewis won’t be fired mid-season; Mike Brown’s family history guarantees an inhibition to fire a head coach. We can’t say the same for Austin, who is nine games into one of the worst defenses in franchise history. Injuries have stalled the defense’s development, but that also highlights the team’s overall lack of talent beyond their regular contributors, with backups and spot contributors lacking the ability to fill oversized shoes.

After the game, Lewis wouldn’t comment on potential coaching changes coming.

This team is a mess.

A big mess.

And someone should lose their job over it.